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Consolidated Cigar To Close Plant Employing 400

October 25, 1985

BERWICK, Pa. (AP) _ A cigar company will close a plant with 400 workers because of a 20-year decline in cigar smoking, company officials announced.

Some phases of the Consolidated Cigar Corp. will be transferred to company plants in McAddo and Pittston, Pa., and to Virginia and Puerto Rico, the company said. But some workers may be transferred to McAdoo when the plant is closed by the end of next year, said plant manager Jack Walsh.

Consolidated, which makes Dutch Masters, El Producto, Muriel, Don Diego and other brands of cigars, decided to close the plant because it was too small to encompass other operations if another plant were closed, Walsh said.

Employees were notified of the closing Thursday.

Consolidated Cigar President Theo Holz said two takeovers of the company within the past 21/2 years had nothing to do with the decision to close the plant.

A group of five senior officers bought the company for $120 million in March 1983 from Gulf and Western Industries Inc. The group sold the corporation in July 1984 to MacAndrews & Forbes Group Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

″It wasn’t that the company was purchased,″ said Folz in a telephone interview Thursday from his Seacaucus, N.J., office. ″The cigar industry is in a decline.″

Since 1964, Walsh said, sales of cigars have decreased from 9 billion per year to 3 billion. He said Consolidated’s production had followed the same trend.

Within the past year, Folz said, one of Consolidated’s Pennsylvania competitors closed two factories and sold a third.

Lou Biacchi, mayor of this community of 12,000 residents with a 10 percent unemployment rate, said the company would be missed.

″Consolidated Cigar was an excellent industry throughout the years that employed an awfully lot of local people,″ he said.

″My head is just spinning,″ said the company accounting manager Truman Lauer. ″There are not many jobs out there.″

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